Tooth Decay – Bible Hill Family Dentistry

Tips to Cure Tooth Decay

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a breakdown of teeth due to acids made by bacteria. The cavities may be a number of different colors from yellow to black. Symptoms may include pain and difficulty with eating.

WHY DO I HAVE TOOTH DECAY?

Tooth decay is a degenerative oral health condition that is among the world’s most common health problems. Tooth decay causes damage on tooth’s surfaces, enamel, dentin or even cement. The destruction or damage on the tooth’s surface most of the time lead to the development of cavities (holes in the teeth). It is a result of diet and bad oral hygiene. Bacteria present in the oral cavity and diet rich in sugar and starches form a combination that chemically attacks the tooth structure.

If cavities aren’t treated, they grow larger and affect deeper layers of your teeth.

It can be divided in two:

1). Intraoral halitosis: (90% of cases): It comes from the oral cavity itself. In 41% of cases it is due to biofilm accumulation (bacterial plaque) in the tongue. But it also can be caused by periodontal problems, smokers, tooth decay, etc.

2). Extra oral halitosis: (10% of cases): Its origin is outside of the oral cavity. It is mainly caused by systemic disorders; respiratory tract problems, digestive system, or kidney and liver disease.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF TOOTH DECAY?

    • Insufficient oral hygiene and diet: Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Eating a lot of sugar and insufficient oral hygiene may lead bacteria to quickly begin feeding on them and form plaque. Dental plaque that is not removed can harden and form “calculus” that brushing doesn’t clean, creating a shield for bacteria. The acids formed by bacteria remove minerals in your tooth’s enamel. Once an area of enamel is worn away, acids can reach the dentin; which is softer and is less resistant to acids compared to enamel. As tooth decay develops, bacteria and acids continue their way to the inner tooth structure (Pulp chamber).

Risk factors

  • Diet: Food that is not easily washed out by brushing and saliva. Like; milk, yogurt, ice cream, cake, cookies, soda, honey, etc.
  • Inadequate brushing
  • Eating disorders
  • Dry mouth
  • Tooth location
  • Worn fillings or dental devices
  • Gastroesophageal reflux

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS OF TOOTH DECAY?

  • Tooth sensitivity (when eating or drinking something cold, hot or sweet).
  • Visible cavities or holes in your teeth
  • Spontaneous toothache
  • Color change in surface of tooth.

WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS OF TOOTH DECAY?

Tooth decay and cavities can have serious and lasting complications, which may include:

  • Dental abscess
  • Swelling
  • Presence of pus around affected tooth
  • Pain that interferes with everyday activities.
  • Tooth loss
  • Chewing problems that may cause weight loss.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT FOR TOOTH DECAY?

  • Regular dental checkups can prevent tooth decay or identify cavities before they cause any symptoms.

    Treatment of tooth decay depends on how advanced it is.

    • Early stages: Dentist may lower sugar intake in diet and may apply fluoride gel, varnish or paste to the area. Fluoride helps protect teeth by strengthening the enamel, making teeth more resistant to acids and bacteria.
    • Fillings or fixed restorations: Dental decay will be removed and the dentist will use a restorative material to fill the cavity or preparation.
    • Root canal treatment: If tooth decay has spread to the pulp chamber, it is ideal to remove the pulp completely in a root canal treatment.
    • Tooth extractions: Some teeth are so badly decayed or damaged that it is impossible to restore them and must be removed. If possible, consider a fixed prosthesis or dental implants to replace missing tooth.

HOW CAN I PREVENT TOOTH DECAY?

  • Good oral hygiene habits
  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
  • Flossing regularly to remove plaque from between teeth.
  • Use mouthwash that contains fluoride.
  • Dental visits
  • Visit your dentist regularly twice a year. Get professional teeth cleaning and oral exams.
  • Dental sealants
  • A dental sealant seals off grooves that tend to retain food, protecting tooth structure from bacteria and acids.
  • Sealants last for several years before they have to be changed, but need to be periodically checked.